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While you were at Cannes Lions, I was tending my bees

By Grant Hunter | Global executive creative director

Iris

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June 30, 2022 | 6 min read

Cannes Lions has wrapped, after a week of prize accepting, protest making and rosé quaffing. But spare a thought for those who couldn’t make it to the Croisette, like Iris’s global executive creative director Grant Hunter. Here, he shares his experience as a Cannes onlooker from afar, as he crafted a pitch and tended to his bee colonies.

This year, Cannes was going to be a big one for me. By way of putting our money where our sustainable mouth is, I was going to cycle the 1,000 miles to Cannes over 10 days, saving a carbon footprint of over 500kg C02 while still being part of the festival. Alas, due to an important pitch, it was not to be, and in the week Rowan Atkinson’s Man vs Bee launched on Netflix, I too found myself stuck at home with bees for company. As a passionate beekeeper, this is swarm season and I’m about to be very busy. So for me this week is very much Cannes vs Bee.

Monday

Although the UK train workers are striking, it hasn’t stopped my colleague Matt Rebeiro taking the train to France, and as he sets off I remember that other Rowan Atkinson blockbuster, Mr Bean’s Holiday, where he travels to Cannes by train. By the time I’ve woken on Monday morning he’s already there, having used the eight-hour journey to re-master Iris’s sustainable travel policies, and in plenty of time to start research at all the fringe talks on sustainability. I’m impressed, if a little disappointed, by the lack of Mr Bean-style comedic capers he has to share. I realize that if I’m to get anything done this week I need to stop thinking about Rowan Atkinson.

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A bee pollinating a flower

Grant Hunter wasn’t at Cannes this year – he was looking after his bee colonies / Dmitry Grigoriev via Unsplash

The plan for our pitch seems good; we’re tracking OK. We just need to get these major drumbeat moments to land though.

Our Adidas Arsenal ‘No More Red’ campaign gets a shortlist in Entertainment For Sport – a promising start to the week.

Check the bees. Lots of activity. A couple of sealed queen cells. Swarm alert. Decide to split the hive to create some space and hopefully have two working colonies.

Tuesday

First train strike; no option to go in, but our pitch creative is starting to shape up. Central thread sorted. Everyone onboard, including the research groups. Brief our friends on sound.

No metal for ‘No More Red.’ ‘Long Live Prince’ from Engine deservedly picks up its first accolade. Both initiatives tackle the UK knife crime epidemic, which desperately needs more attention and action. More safe spaces for young people are so needed.

Leave the bees to do bee things.

Wednesday

Make the pilgrimage into London. Only the Metropolitan line is working. I get the first train at 8.18am.

Michael and the gang are having fun with the central idea for the pitch. Vibes feel good.

Cannes Lions secret speaker Lisa from the Purpose Disruptors asks the industry to use our imagination to promote the lives we need to be living with the #GoodLife2030 project. Inspiring.

Greenpeace invades the WPP beach dressed in dog suits with ‘This Is Fine’ placards; adfolk continue sipping rosé. Depressing.

Walk past St Paul’s on the way to Farringdon tube. Bump into Rowan Atkinson not once but three times. Three life-sized statues of Rowan are being photographed to promote Man vs Bee. I feel hunted.

Thursday

Second train strike. Pitch design work is coming together. Our TikTokers have been busy creating some fun content.

Toan Mai and Quynh Tran from Ogilvy Singapore get bronze for ‘lovetheworkmore,’ which sets out to give everyone free access to the work that Cannes Lions keeps locked behind its paywall. Getting awarded – that’s almost Inception-like.

Rowan Atkinson thoughts have now been replaced with those of the aforementioned rosé, so I have a chilled one over dinner to bring a bit of La Croisette to the Chilterns. As if in solidarity with Greenpeace on the beach, the bees swarm. F**k, half the colony is in the hawthorn next to the hives. Rowan – did you know? Bee suit on. Next hour spent coaxing the bees into the swarm trap. Have them rehoused before sundown.

Bees currently dominating Cannes.

Friday

Pitch creative 90% there. Still some tweaking to do.

Greenpeace storms the Palais via a giant ladder and calls out greenwashing. I look forward to telling the bees.

It’s Straight 8 industry shootout day. Hector, Is, Chaz and Oli have crafted our satirical entry, which confronts our industry’s ability to bury its head in the sand when it comes to the climate crisis. Gutted not to be there to see the premiere. We win silver.

Think about next year’s Cannes. Hope there’s more planet-positive sentiment and our industry steps up to its responsibilities. We have a golden opportunity to use our creativity to make sustainable lifestyles more desirable.

Bees much happier. Look almost victorious. Leave them to it.

Bypass the rosé, open the cider. Time to tune into Glasto.

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